Renting out a house to a random tenant comes with potential risks and rewards. In a perfect world, the tenant respects your property, delivers a rent check on time, and everyone is happy. But we don’t live in a perfect world and these sorts of renters are few and far between. To prevent yourself from being taken advantage of, it’s important that you take a firm stance against unwanted behaviors and actions.
8 Things You Shouldn’t Let Tenants Do in Your Rental Property
Tenants should be given some freedoms and the respect of privacy. However, as the owner of the property, you also have a right to set ground rules in regards to what they can and can’t do. As you develop your lease agreements, interact with tenants, and verbally set expectations, make it a point to outlaw and disallow tenants from doing the following:
1. Rent Without a Security Deposit
In tough rental markets where it’s hard to get a renter, you may be tempted to try any number of strategies to get someone to sign a lease agreement. And though there’s nothing wrong with incentivizing tenants, you should never let someone rent one of your properties without a security deposit.
For starters, a security deposit serves the practical purpose of helping you offset any costs that may stem from damage that’s left behind at the end of a lease. But in all honesty, it’s much more than this. A security deposit ensures that your tenants have skin in the game, which gives them more incentive to protect your property and treat it as their own.
2. Pay Rent Late
I’m sorry, I just started a new job and my first paycheck won’t come until the end of the month…My mom got sick and I had to send her some money…My child needed some cash for school supplies…The bank is closed and I’ll have to wait until Monday to get you the money…If you’re a landlord long enough, you’ll hear all of these excuses and every possible variation of them.
When you run across a pleasant tenant, it’s easy to want to help them out. So the first time they come to you with a late rent excuse, you let it slide. The problem in doing this is that it’s rarely the only time. As soon as you extend some leniency, most renters will see weakness and realize that they can do it again and again.
3. Have Pets on the Property
You may love dogs, cats, and other animals, but you should never allow pets in a rental property. As cute and cuddly as they may be, they’re also pretty nasty. Not only do they create messes with fur, dander, urine, and excrement, but they’ve also been known to chew on baseboards, dig holes in the yard, and attract bugs and fleas.
It may chase away a couple of interested renters, but having a no-pets clause in the rental agreement will ultimately protect your investment for years to come. It’ll also pay dividends down the road when you don’t have to explain pet smells and other issues to future renters.
4. List the Property on Airbnb
Some renters have been known to list their rentals on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway as a way of making some extra cash while they’re out of town or staying at a friend’s place.
Though Airbnb is a great resource for homeowners, it’s not something that you should give your renters an opportunity to use. In addition to outlawing any form of subletting in your lease agreement, you should have a specific conversation with your tenants to let them know that they can’t put the property on a service like Airbnb without your permission.
5. Smoke or Do Drugs
Make it clear to your tenants that you don’t permit smoking on the premises. This is something you’re legally allowed to include in a lease agreement, as it can cause damage to your property.
You should also vehemently oppose any sort of drug use or activity on the property. Not only is it illegal, but it could come back to bite you. Even if you have no direct involvement, you could be required by law to report any criminal activity that you know of. This can put you in a really tight spot, and it’s best to avoid it altogether.
6. Remove Landscaping
It’s always nice when you have a tenant who cares enough about the property to take care of it. In a single-family residential home, your tenant may be tasked with handling basic landscaping – such as mowing the lawn, edging, and picking up leaves. What you don’t want your tenant doing is making major changes to the landscaping without your permission. Make it clear that they shouldn’t be removing large branches, taking down trees, or planting new perennials without asking.
7. Paint or Renovate Without Permission
Much like with landscaping, you shouldn’t allow tenants to make any significant changes to the inside of the property without permission. The key word here is permission. You may decide that it’s perfectly fine for a tenant to do something like paint a room, refinish cabinets, or install new hardware, but they need to run it by you.
8. Automatically Renew Lease
An automatically renewing lease isn’t ideal for anyone. It’s easy for the renewal date to slip up on you and, before you realize it, you may be locked into another six months or a year with a tenant you don’t really get along with. You could also forget to change the terms of the agreement, which could mean missing out on raising the rate. Regardless, it’s wise to conduct renewals manually.
Let Green Residential Help
Rental properties are investments. And with any investment, you have to protect the underlying asset so that it has every opportunity to grow in value. At Green Residential, it’s our primary objective to help our clients protect their investments by providing premier property management services at a cost-effective price point.
If you’d like to learn more about our comprehensive services – which include property marketing, tenant screening, rent collection, accounting, repair coordination, property management in Houston and more – please reach out and contact us at your earliest convenience!